Don't look now, but the Nationals might have been the most successful team during the first day of the 2011 MLB Draft. They had three picks, and by all accounts, got good value with each selection. Let's break it down here, with help from the guys over at Baseball Nation.
With their first pick at No. 6 overall, the Nationals selected Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon. Rendon was projected as one of the top two players in this class, but fell to six after alleged concerns about his injury history, and bad fits with the teams picking ahead of the Nats (except the Mariners, who he would have been perfect for). Rendon is considered an elite defensive third baseman, and also the best hitter in the class. I'm not sure where he will play in the Nationals infield, but wherever he ends up, he should be a dynamic player for them. To get arguably the best player in the Draft at No. 6 overall is tremendous value. I give it an A. I'm holding that + back until we know how healthy he is.
A healthy Rendon projects as an on-base machine with good power and excellent defensive ability at third base. The Nationals may have a steal here.
The rest of the Draft went pretty much by a script for the Nationals. They took two guys who they had reported interest in, and who they had taken in plenty of Mocks across the Internet. The ifrst was Alex Meyer with the 23rd overall pick. He is an enormous right handed pitcher from the University of Kentucky, and has some of the best pure stuff in the entire Draft. But he is so big that he has trouble repeating his motion and can get a little inconsistent. If he can put it all together, he has the kind of stuff that would make him a premier starter on any team.
Ideally he would develop into a number two starter, although if command is a long-term problem he could end up in a bullpen role. It is unusual to find an arm with this kind of upside with the 23rd pick in the draft, testimony to how deep this class truly is.
That last sentence is what makes me give this pick a solid B+. It isn't about getting a superstar at every position, it's about getting the best value out of your picks. The Nationals did that with Meyer.
They also had the first pick in the compensatory sandwich round, and selected Brian Goodwin from Miami Dade Community College. Goodwin started his collegiate career at UNC, but was dismissed following academic issues. Well good news, you don't have to take any classes in the Nationals minor league system. He has fantastic tools, and could develop into the kind of center fielder the Nationals desperately need; great defensively, solid on base ability and great speed once he gets there. Goodwin's value probably took a serious hit after leaving UNC, and the Nats took advantage of that. Another great value pick; B+.
For more on the Nationals Draft, check out our friends over at Federal Baseball.